Work in India: hard challenges with a chilling fleur. Business in India is about respect and connections

Like in many Asian countries, you will not go far in India if you don’t have the right connections. Moreover, the whole local touristic business system is built against foreigners on the basis of personal connections of the locals. Here is an example. You ask at the reception of your hotel to provide you with a driver, because you want to go the city centre. They have all the hotel’s cars booked, so they ask a relative of a waiter in the breakfast room if he knows a driver. He has a relative who is a driver. The driver picks you up and asks, where would you like to go. You want to go to a temple in the city centre. On your way, the driver asks, whether you need a tour guide for just 500 Rupees. You agree. On the way back, your guide offers you to visit one-of-a-kind shop with locally made scarfs. You agree and buy two scarfs, bargaining badly and paying only 40% of the initial price. Should I tell you, how much you overpaid and how many people will get a share from those 40%? Right, start with the hotel’s reception..

What is this story about? Right, if you want to get into a good cheap shop, you should give a good tip to the hotel receptionist first!

Work in India: hard challenges with a chilling fleur. The casts system has its goals

The casts system is presented in a very bad way to all Europeans, but I have seen a different side of it on the very first day in India. When your grandfather was a jeweller, your father is a jeweller, you have no choice but to become a jeweller as well. You will not fight for a place at a university of architecture to become an architect, you will not try to collect money for a career of a politician – because you are born to become a jeweller – and you accept it. But you may dream to become a bank works in your next life, if you wish! I believe, this is the main reason why India had so many talented people for many centuries – professional knowledge, generated within the centuries, were transferred to every new generation.

At the same time, we will never be able to understand it in Europe or in the US. “From nothing to everything” is our goal – while in India you are already born with everything you may have. This is the difference, this is the reason, why we will never be satisfied with what we have – but Indians will be. This is the main though we seek in India while developing our soul with Yoga and ancient philosophies. But we will never find it, because this is not the kind of answer we are looking for.

The collective social mind in India means supporting each other. Everybody in a cast system has his place. I have seen people who were born on the streets to beg being children of beggars whose parents were street beggars as well. Haven’t you notice that those people somehow receive food and water to survive? Because the care about other casts is deep in the roots of the Indian social system. A man from the middle class, for instance, would not iron his clothes or shave his beard by himself. He would give this job to others, pay for their services and therefore support their families with money. My travel guide in Delhi being from a “middle class” caste supported six families on the weekly basis, saving her own time for being a guide for us. You might bite me for that, buy I found this system much more humane than the one in Russia, when those buying caviar in the supermarket ignore old people without any money even for bread.

Work in India: hard challenges with a chilling fleur. Chilling nicely – working hard

The Indian work culture is very different from ours. First of all, Indians are not as stressed out as Europeans are, especially in the small cities. Drivers, shops’ owners, tabacco chewers are sitting and chilling while waiting for the customers. Or talking and drinking tea. Or just sleeping directly on their work place or in the car. You usually will not find Indians standing straight and waiting for the customers with a big smile on their face from 09:00 till 18:00 like you are used to in Europe. They will be very relaxed while waiting for you. By the way, the shops usually work till 17 or 18, rarely 19, so one does not expect a bunch of tourists coming from their one-day excursion to shop in the evening. In India, you will be offered a cold drink or a chai (tea with milk, sugar and spices) while you are sitting and shopping. This is a process to be enjoyed by both, the customer and the seller. While passing working people by, you feel a much more pleasant energy than in a French or German office, where employees live under the 24/7 stress. Probably, the appreciation of what you have right now is determining a more relaxed way of working here.

If in countries like Korea and China you may learn how to survive in the hardest competition, here you may learn how to enjoy your day while working hard. At least, it is worth trying.

Just some info for you..from me!

First of all, here is a small announcement: As I discovered that my readers often use mobile phones to read my articles, I will shorten the stories and divide them into small parts, so it would be more comfortable for you to read when you are on your way to work, university or language courses 😉 If you dislike the new format, just write your opinion in the comments!

There are many countries, which I imagined to be different before I came there, and India was one of them. This week I will post 5 thoughts on the Indian work culture I experienced this fall, one thought per day, so do not miss them))

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

 

 

Team culture vs. individuals-driven innovations

Some time ago, I attended an Assessment Centre of a major energy company, and the thoughts about it would not let me go. The negative part of my personal feedback was: “We need innovations, and you are not creative, because you did not propose any solution to the problem”. Our group was the only one to complete the task correctly though.

Choosing between different directions for innovation is not only the task for one’s creativity, but this is an issue of the right facilitation and personnel management. Most companies have enough talented people to bring innovations forward but concentrate all the efforts on finding the solutions somewhere else instead of motivating employees to bring ideas forward within the company. Moreover, while recruiters are paying attention to the knowledge of the “right” (well-known and certified) methodologies, the ability to listen carefully to others and to ask the right questions is never in the middle of the interview.

I went through many modern innovation approaches focusing on customers, internal processes, team-related brainstorming – but did not find any good concepts related to individual intellectual strength of employees. Let’s say, innovation is not business at first – it’s personal.

Many companies are strongly team building-oriented, while innovation-focused structured work of less social employees is underrated. The goal of the team management often becomes to make employees identical enough so they could work as an “effective team”. The amount of emotional energy every employee should invest in this theatrical masterpiece of acting like a “good team member” instead of his own work and relationships with the clients is not considered. This becomes especially visible in teams, which have only few introverts, who need to adapt to the “team culture” of others. Meanwhile, when did the “good team player” become the only way of distinguishing the “good employee”? A solid introverted scientist can be of more help in an innovation process than ten certified Innovation Managers can. I am talking here about employees, who are too shy or just uncomfortable to speak up for their ideas. In this case, their y).

Why do so few methodologies focus on what the INDIVIDUALS can and so many – on what THE TEAM can? Why do employers spend so much time creating “team cultures”, candidates are sitting with books on “how to become a person everybody will love during the Assessment Center”, team members are concentrated on the team brainstorming while competing behind each other’s backs. Excuse me, who is going to work in this structure on the innovative strategies and when?

Why do not we try to collect different ideas from the employees themselves one-by-one and then analyze them, as we do with the customers’ opinions? Why not to make our own talented people to our internal customers in the innovation process?

We do not use the individual strengths – we tolerate them. And later on we try to change the individual in order to be able to manage him more effectively. Similar people in larger groups are easier to coordinate. This toleration is a disease, as what we really need is to learn, how to integrate individual strengths instead and make use of them.

We also lack the ability to observe. When I read my non-marketing-related newsfeed on LinkedIn, 80% of posts are about people themselves (I was nominated..I visited…I achieved) and 20% declare the same in a more polite form “WE” (My team..my company..). There are only few to none posts about achievements of colleagues and partners, which mostly come from executives and headhunters. To survive, one should be self-centered, self-confident and very loud. The team culture in many companies does not motivate people to share innovative ideas with each other, as it is more of a co-existence culture under the conditions of a high competition within the “team”. Nobody is willing to share more than is required, even less are employees motivated to ask other team members about their opinions.

In my perception, the reason why many innovative startups are showing a sustainable fast growth is that they are small enough so the employees would use the individual strengths of each other and have less time for the process management. You MUST get to know others and learn their opinion to survive. The ability to listen and make others speak becomes crucial.

As the speed requirements for innovations processes increase, we need new concepts concentrating on making people speak up rather than making their opinions “acceptable” to the team. In the world of diversity, one should learn not only to accept differences in minds, characters, and working cultures – but also to benefit from them.

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

Thought for the day (I am back from India)

If I disappear for a while, this usually indicates that I spend time in a country with a veee-eery low-speed internet 😉 Interesting articles about India and the working culture in that amazing, very different from everything I knew before, country will follow soon.

Right now, I am trying to keep up with the politics from the last month while balancing my words in the political circles at my new job.

Here you go – fresh fast food politics for those with some humour!

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